High on their success at Jericho, God's people pressed on to conquer another section of the land.
The battle at Jericho stunned the already fearful nations that lived in the land of promise. They had heard that the people of Israel were crossing the border of the Jordan, but they were unprepared to see the mighty city of Jericho collapse.
Israel, well, you can imagine how the people felt. A small group of immigrants toppled a giant city. God helped. Actually, he did most of the pushing, but they were included.
And this success gets in the way.
The people of Israel become over-confident. They charge off to take over the small city of Ai. Joshua doesn't even bother to go on the scouting trip. Only a small portion of the army goes. Most importantly, they don't consult God to see if this is a wise move or if he will fight this battle with them.
Their past success made them assume God would be with them in this next venture. But that assumption is not an easy one. God is no tame lion.
The battle at Ai goes poorly. God's people scatter and run away from the small city. Thirty-six soldiers are killed. The hearts of Israel melt.
Sometimes, our past successes get in the way. We lock in to strategies, thinking they're permanent when they were temporary. We ignore context. We forget the significance of God's impact and presence.
In the most beautiful way possible, God is with us, Immanuel, Jesus the Christ. We should never doubt that God is truly with us. But we shouldn't take his presence for granted.
In the desert, God's people looked to him for provision every day in the form of manna. In the land of promise, they still need to look to him, to look to him for help, for strategy, for wisdom, for rescue. And we stand with them.
Don't let past success get in the way.